Ricky Cummins - My Redan Story
Tell us about your junior football career and some of the highlights?
I started my junior football as a ten year old at the North Ballarat Football Club. I wasn’t going to start playing until I was older but my friends from school were playing and talked me into it. I managed to win the B&F in my first year and things progressed from there.
As a junior I was fortunate enough to play with the same group from under 12’s-18’s we had great success playing in five premierships.
Football was a big part of my life training four nights a week as a 14-15 year old and was lucky enough to be in the North Ballarat Rebels list. I went on to play my first game with them as a 15 year old, this was a highlight being able to play with the likes of Adam Goodes and Shane O’Bree who went on to have successful AFL careers.
You and twelve other former North Ballarat juniors came to Redan in 1998 to play as the Redan Roosters. Take us through how this all unfolded.
This was an interesting time in our junior careers as the NBFC started in the VFL and therefore could not have a side in the Ballarat Football League in the seniors and the under 18’s came under the ‘senior category”. We didn’t know what to do or where to play footy.
We all wanted to stay together as we were all great mates and still are to this day. So we spoke to a number of clubs about playing for them and what was best suited to us all. We played against Redan in a number of Grand Finals so we knew they had a good side and were going to continue to push each of us to compete for spots and hopefully achieve success.
The decision was then made easy as Redan were prepared to call us the Redan Roosters which made us still feel some sort of connection to North Ballarat Football Club for the next two years before we made the step into senior football.
The side won the flag in 1998 and then went undefeated the following season. Could the group sense that something special wasn’t too far away for Redan at senior level?
Definitely. We played all our junior career together with great success so we knew that if we all stuck around and together we knew it wouldn’t take long to be a threat in the seniors. Obviously maintaining all of our juniors and then recruits that came through we just knew something special would come to us in time!
How many of the thirteen managed to play in a Senior Premierships with Redan?
A great test of my memory now. I wouldn’t know the exact number but from the group that came through in 1998, but we continued the association with the North juniors stepping up to Redan under 18’s which saw the likes of Ryan Knowles and Luke Nunn come through and play in flags as well as a number of us from the group that came through in 1998.
You debuted in 1999 under Barry Hills and were a part of the drought breaking win over Daylesford that year. What do you remember of that game and was it almost up there with a Grand Final win?
It certainly was, it was one of the most rewarding games I’ve played in. To see the likes of Marty Cusack, Justin Catley and players that had been around the club getting smashed by 50 goals every week, to taste victory with those guys and to see their emotions when the siren sounded made it a very special occasion.
I am pretty sure there was more tears that day than when we won the flags! I remember celebrations went on for a couple of days which made training interesting that week. There were a handful of us that were still underage but still managed to gain entry to the nightclubs that night!!
The following season you established yourself in the senior side. Following back to back U/18 B&Fs, you took out the Dalton-Bayly Medal. How would those three seasons measure up with you whole career?
They were very rewarding years personally, especially winning the two flags in the 18’s and being able to win B&F’s in both those years really meant a lot. I knew I had to work extra hard moving up to senior footy because I wasn’t the biggest bloke going around.
I really worked hard on my running game because I knew I had to compete for spots with some great footballers who had been recruited to the club like Dru Quinlan and Simon Markham (top right). To have Brett Quinlan trust my ability and give me the opportunity to play in the middle, I just knew I had to play my best every game and I was rewarded with a B&F in my first year in the seniors because of this!
What was it like playing under Brett Quinlan and what was his greatest strength?
It was a great honour, we knew Brett from playing at North Ballarat and we were very excited knowing he was going to be our senior coach. He was a great player and obviously knew a lot about the game. He brought to us a number of structures and discipline, I remember just doing the same drills every training session until we got it right.
He changed our game plans each week to best suit our opposition as he knew exactly what they were going to do. He was a master tactically on game day and was able to get the best out of everyone who played under him, he knew when to give us a spray and I will never forget the speeches he gave pregame in 2002 and 2003.
Missing out on the 2002 Premiership through injury, it must have been a bitter sweet experience?
Yes it was, something I found really hard. I did my knee in the first 15 mins of round one and was the fittest I had been after doing a preseason at North Ballarat in the VFL and to sustain the injury so early was devastating.
I remember we had strung a few wins together after winning five games in each of the previous two season before that and I specifically remember being at home with the knee up on the coach mid-season and we travelled to Sunbury and the score came over the radio, it said we had just beaten Sunbury down in Sunbury which was a huge effort.
It was then I realised there was going to be something special happen and knew that we would be playing finals that year.
While I was happy for the boys, I was upset knowing I wouldn’t be a part of that. Grand Final day was an emotional day, it was hard watching the boys go about it and preparing for the day. Somehow I did feel a part of it as I was on the ground as the water boy and remember the umpires telling me off because I was talking to the players too much and encouraging.
When the siren sounded, I won't lie I had a few tears, happy for the boys that they won but just knowing I wasn't going to be up there getting the medal around my neck was a very emotional time!
The following season you were part of the side that went back to back for the first time at Redan since the late 1970s. What are your memories of that Grand Final and the celebrations?
It’s all a bit of blur really. It was a relief being able to make the grand final two years in a row. Again we probably weren’t the best side during the year but we managed to come together and play our best footy when it counted. Once we made the Grand Final I remember Quinna coming up to me and saying enjoy the week because we’ve earnt the right to play off for another flag which was really exciting.
I remember running out with the boys and thinking this is awesome playing in front of such a big crowd and knowing in two hours we could be celebrating back to back flags with some of your best mates. The game was pretty intense, especially in the 1st quarter, I have never seen anything like it.
Mark Power (captain of Sunbury) locked eye with Kenno on the bottom of the pack and stomped on his head, he was red carded and if that was bad enough old mate Kiernan Molloy thought he’s throw in a sledge while the umpire escorted him off, so Mark Power thought it would be a great idea to throw a few round arms.
It's funny now but at the time you think geez, we are in for a tough day! Funnily enough it didn’t end there with Dean Lupson being yellow carded and I remember he was trying to jump in to the crown to fight a supporter who must have lipped off to him as he was on his way to join Mark Power on the sidelines!
It wasn’t until the final quarter until we broke the game open which was a good effort by Sunbury considering they only had 17 men for pretty much the entire game. Big Sammy Ellis started to clunk a few and kicked a couple of goals, it was then I realised I think we might get this done.
Once the siren sounded it was relief, we had just gone back to back and the celebrations were about to begin, the moment when the players were introduced at the Western Oval was a moment I will never forget, you felt like a rock star with everyone chanting and then singing the song on stage. The celebrations didn’t go on to long, only for a week!
Who were some of the players who had the biggest influence on you while at Redan and who was your toughest opponent?
Simon Markham was one who I admired. He was one of the toughest players I had ever played with, he sort of took me under his wing and I just sat back and watch the way he played and trained, he trained as hard as he played. I felt sorry for whoever was tackled or bumped by him because there was every chance they were not going to get up.
Aaron Freeland, Mark Verberne and Dru Quinlan were others I looked up to because coming from North Ballarat and playing at VFL level they knew the what was required to be successful so I managed to do most of the preseasons and all the running with Freezer as he was one of the fittest at the club.
Toughest opponent would have to of been Mark Power, he wasn’t the biggest block going around, (I had him covered) but yet he would always make a contest and somehow almost every time. If he was in the air on the ground, come out with the ball. He could always go forward and kick a bag too.
Aside from the premierships and individual honours, what are some of your best memories of your time at Redan?
I think just being able to make that step up from junior footy and have the coaches back us young kids coming through and being able to share these successful moments with your best mates. Some fifteen years on we still catch up regularly and talk about these days.
Since then you have enjoyed team and individual success in CHFL at Bungaree alongside a number of former Redan players. What would you say are the biggest similarities about the two clubs?
I think the similarities would have to be how welcome you feel when you first arrive, similar to when I started at Redan everyone makes you feel welcome and go out of their way to do anything for you or your family.
When I started at Bungaree, it was Jayden Reid’s first year as coach and he tried to bring in that friendly and family culture to Bungaree which it was anyway, similar to Quinna they didn’t go out and recruit “BIG Names” for the sake of it. They would recruit quality people rather than quality players because if you have quality people around you, they tend to bring quality players with them.
How many premierships have you played in at Bungaree and how many all told? Are they all just as special or does one stand out?
We made the Grand Final at Bungaree in 2014 after two Preliminary Finals in a row, we went on to win that game which was an amazing feeling again.
I was actually pretty lucky to play in the Grand Final and finals series. I did my shoulder in the second round of the year and only came back in the last round of the season to qualify and managed to get through each game thereafter and to end up winning another flag was a very special moment! I think that made it about eight to nine grand final wins!
How heavily have you been tagged playing at Bungaree and what is the key to overcoming a tagger?
There was about three to four years there I was being tagged pretty heavily. After experiencing this, I knew I had to work hard over preseason and work on running all day. I basically ran every day just to keep my fitness up, this helped me come game day with the tag as I was able to just completely out run my opponent as I knew my fitness was going to better than theirs.
How much of a difference would you say there is between crowds and rivalries in the CHFL as opposed to the BFL?
I would have to say the crowds in CHFL are much bigger than those of the BFL, the small country towns and their communities just hang for each Saturday to come around. They are very passionate and vocal each and every Saturday. We just played our rival being Springbank last week and it was a final atmosphere and it was only round six.
Are you still having a kick and do you see yourself staying involved once you hang up the boots?
I am still going around. I kind of had retired last year but it got to half way through October and I had already missed not playing even though there wasn’t any games or training. It was a hard decision to go on again but glad I have as I am still really enjoying playing and the team is going strong.
Also to have my two boys come and watch me play and they come into the rooms to sing the song after each win is a special moment to share with them!
I definitely want to stay involved in football once I finish playing. I’ve had some experience in coaching with Bungaree and also the Rebels Under 16 development squads so I hope to be able to help out somewhere if somebody wants me to!
What are you doing with yourself away from football?
I currently work at PRD Nationwide-Real Estate as a sales consultant. This keeps me busy as well as family life with my wife and boys Jordy who is three and Brax one with our third due in August, so might have a few boys for the father son at Redan in 2032!
What is the best piece of advice you were given as a junior?
Don’t worry about the result, just go and enjoy yourself and have fun with your mates.